Outdoor Retailer announces 2023 return to Salt Lake City

New SLC convention center hotel in 2022

Huge news for Salt Lake City today, announced by both Visit Salt Lake and Emerald (event organizers) – Outdoor Retailer will return to Salt Lake City in 2023. The show has signed a three year contract that will see OR return to Utah for a twice year show (January and June) 2023 – 2025.

By the time the massive trade show returns to Salt Lake City a lot will have changed locally including:

  • The opening of the all new SLC international airport
  • A new TRAX line connecting downtown SLC to the airport
  • More than 1,000 new hotel rooms in Salt Lake County, boosted hugely the Hyatt-Regency Convention Center Hotel – a 26 story, 700 room hotel (pictured above in final stages of completion)
  • Dozens of new restaurants and bars in the city for visitors to explore

On that last point, no doubt huge numbers of downtown businesses will be celebrating the economic impact the show brings to our streets.

Visit Salt Lake released the following press release:

Outdoor Retailer announced today that the largest gathering of the outdoor industry in North America will be returning to the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. For the next three years, from 2023 through 2025, Outdoor Retailer will bring the community together for annual winter events in January and summer shows in June.

“I’m thrilled Outdoor Retailer is returning to Salt Lake County. They will again be an economic anchor for our county and bring increased revenue and job growth,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “I agree with those seeking to protect Utah’s precious natural resources and in the five years since Outdoor Retailer left, Salt Lake County has led in environmental protection and conservation. We welcome Outdoor Retailer’s return and its partnership to benefit our broader community.”

For more than 20 years, Salt Lake played host to Outdoor Retailer. What started with 5,000 delegates and 100,000 square feet of exhibits quickly became Salt Lake’s largest trade show, with more than 29,000 attendees and more than a million square feet of exhibit space, utilizing the entire Salt Palace and additional outdoor pavilions. 

During its tenure in Salt Lake, Outdoor Retailer summer and winter events generated more than $565 million in direct delegate spending, accounting for more than $52 million in city, county and state taxes, and providing $1,238 in tax relief to each Salt Lake County household on an annual basis.

“We welcome back our friends with Outdoor Retailer and recognize their importance to Salt Lake City. We have made great improvements including the $4.2 billion airport and the new TRAX light rail airport station – connecting visitors with more than 200 restaurants and bars, a thriving arts scene and our vibrant downtown atmosphere,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. 

“The biannual Outdoor Retailer events are not only a much-appreciated economic boon for our community, but a great reflection on what makes our region, and the rest of the state, truly unique. We share the same enthusiasm, appreciation and reverence for these great natural assets as the companies that make their way to our city to participate in Outdoor Retailer, and we welcome them back with open arms. We’re doing so much more than welcoming back a convention, we’re uniting our momentum to make change.”

The ethos of Outdoor Retailer matches well with Salt Lake, where the connection is deeper than dollars. The show’s attendees recognize Salt Lake to be one of the best outdoor recreation communities in the world. Access to year-round outdoor recreation and public lands and world-class ski resorts is the top contributor to quality of life in Salt Lake.

The outdoor industry has strongly stated their desire to be back in Salt Lake because of its close proximity to both the new SLC International Airport and world-renowned outdoor playground. Salt Lake anticipates more than 1,000 new hotel rooms coming online this fall, including the 700-room Hyatt Regency Salt Lake convention center hotel, and the new Element and Le Meridian hotels directly adjacent to the Salt Palace. Elevated dining, bars, nightlife, and a plethora of arts and entertainment events will greet delegates upon their return. 

Visit Salt Lake and Outdoor Retailer are partnering to begin the significant work required to effecting meaningful change and dedicating resources to making progress. Among the future programs will be the formation of a “Business with Purpose” initiative to bring city, county, state and federal officials, public lands and outdoor recreation leaders, and industry stakeholders together for biannual meetings focused on addressing challenges, influencing policy, assisting advocacy efforts, and directing resources into protecting natural and cultural spaces and improving access. The partners will further provide increased opportunities for the industry, local communities, and media to participate in panel discussions, educational activities, and volunteer projects.

“Salt Lake is the perfect place to host Outdoor Retailer. Home to many brands, exhibitors, and trade show suppliers, we boast unparalleled access to our outdoor testing grounds, a walkable downtown, a new airport, convention hotel and world-class hotels, brewpubs, bars, and cafes,” said Kaitlin Eskelson, President & CEO of Visit Salt Lake. “We heartily welcome them back to Utah’s great urban basecamp where the distance to demo days is measured in minutes and you can enjoy astounding four season outdoor adventure.”

Because Utah offers the perfect research and development proving ground for outdoor products, the outdoor industry has become an important job growth sector in Utah, as businesses locate here, creating and providing jobs throughout the state. The dozens of outdoor adventure companies that call Utah home include Black Diamond, Kuhl, Goal Zero, Rossignol/Dynastar, Scott Sport, Petzl, Backcountry, Cotopaxi and many more.

Organisers Emerald released the following press release:

Since 1982, Outdoor Retailer has brought the outdoor industry together for commerce, to share ideas, and to provide an experience that has grown into more than a trade show. Our community has become family, and for the past five years we’ve held our biannual gatherings in Denver. As our contract nears its natural end after 2022, we’ve been exploring our options and conferring with the industry to map our next steps.

After much deliberation and input from all sides, we’ve decided the best move for Outdoor Retailer is to return to our basecamp. We’re heading back to Salt Lake City and County to the place we grew up and where our industry matured into the dynamic and powerful community it is today. Moving forward, Outdoor Retailer will bring the community together in January and June at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center. We have a strong relationship with Salt Lake City and a committed partner in Mayor Erin Mendenhall, whose values align with ours following tremendous investments in clean energy and a strong commitment to public lands. This proved to be a real turning point in our recent negotiations.

A Commitment to Change

Salt Lake City and County is our hometown, and we’re going back with a commitment to effecting meaningful change. It would be wrong for us to leave the way we did and simply go back as if nothing happened. In reality, leaving after 2017 has not brought the change we had hoped for, so we will push back, not pull back. We firmly believe that staying engaged and collectively contributing to the ongoing discussion, no matter how difficult, is far more constructive.

We are the first to admit significant work is required to achieve change, so we are dedicating resources to making progress. To start, we are: 

  • Committing revenue over the next three years from Outdoor Retailer events in Utah to fund programs to support outdoor recreation and protect public lands;
  • Forming the Business with Purpose initiative in partnership with Visit Salt Lake to bring city, county, state and federal officials, public lands and outdoor recreation leaders, and industry stakeholders together for biannual meetings focused on addressing challenges, influencing policy, assisting advocacy efforts, and directing resources into protecting natural and cultural spaces and improving access;
  • Providing increased opportunities for the industry, local communities, and media to participate in panel discussions, educational activities, and volunteer projects.

New Experiences

We share your desire to build a stronger industry, and we are working to provide valuable experiences in Salt Lake City and County for you to effectively and efficiently contribute to the sustainable growth of your business.

As such, we are redefining Outdoor Retailer to meet the needs of the growing outdoor recreation economy, adding channels for the industry to interact directly with consumers and conduct commerce with buyers year-round. We’re moving beyond the walls of a convention center to present unique opportunities for commerce, storytelling, advocacy, knowledge and celebration. We are excited to unveil our plans at this summer’s show.

Competition with Cooperation

Outdoor Retailer began 40 years ago with a group of adventurers who loved nature and created gear to make it more fun. Today, we’re a passionate community actively championing causes and advocating for people and our planet. We come together to collaborate, laud achievements, and embrace diverse perspectives. In the booths and aisles, each of us has made it a goal to transcend an individual future – our work is grounded in a desire to improve the outdoor experience for others.

We’re incredibly grateful to Denver for nourishing these passions and embracing our amazing community. We’ll gather in Colorado once more this June to reconnect in person, enhance relationships, and celebrate our milestone anniversary.

As we plan for the coming years back in Salt Lake City and County, we move forward with the same optimism and values that have always guided our industry, and we’re ready to work with you to explore endless opportunities to help our industry grow. We are excited about what the future holds for Outdoor Retailer.

Emerald also released the following FAQ about the upcoming Denver show and future SLC shows.

Stuart is the founder, writer and wrangler at several sites including Gastronomic SLC, Utah Now and, The Utah Review; Stuart is a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune and has worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.